On the 23rd February 2023, The United Republic of Tanzania became the first country to sign the Intergovernmental Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) Amongst the Southern African Development Community Member States for the Establishment of a SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC). The objective of the SHOC is to coordinate humanitarian and emergency support to Member States affected by disasters within the Region, thereby contributing to disaster risk reduction and resilience building. The SHOC will be established as an autonomous, self-accounting organization of SADC, and the purpose of the MoA is to establish SHOC and provide a legal basis for its operationalization. Speaking during the signing ceremony, held in Dodoma, Tanzania, Hon. George Simbachawene, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office: Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled said that SADC Member States cooperate on Disaster Risk Management (DRM) through the Committee of Ministers responsible for Disaster Risk Management.
He added that some of the actions taken to strengthen cooperation in DRM include the establishment of a Regional Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre located in Nacala, in the Nampula Province of Mozambique. The Center was launched by His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique on June 21, 2021. “The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania has continued to manage and coordinate the implementation of disaster management activities in line with the objectives of the SHOC”, he said. The Hon. Minister expressed his country’s expectation that the Centre will deepen cooperation among SADC Member States, strengthen the region capacity to address disasters, improve security of people and properties in the region and establish closer relations among the people of the region.
He continued to say that the Centre is being established through an Agreement that has been approved by the necessary SADC Structures including the Committee of Ministers responsible for Disaster Risk Management in April, 2022 Lilongwe, Malawi; the SADC Council of Ministers during its regular meeting held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo in August, 2022 and the Summit of the SADC Heads of State in August 2022. Addressing the occasion, Dr. Phineas Leonard Matto Legal Counsel at the SADC Secretariat, who represented the Executive Secretary of SADC Amb. Elias Mpedi Magosi, appreciated the contribution that Tanzania has made towards combating and addressing the effects of disasters in the region. He specifically pointed to the contribution made towards the development, validation and adoption of the MoA. He expressed his hope that other Member States will follow suit and sign the Memorandum of Agreement for it to enter into force to pay way for the fully operationalisation of the Centre.
The Centre will become fully operational in line with the provisions of the Intergovernmental Memorandum of Agreement once 11 or more of the 16 SADC Member States have signed. The occasion was also attended by Dr. John Jingu, the Permanent Secretary Prime Minister’s Office Policy, Parliament Affairs and Coordination, Major General Charles Mang’era Mbuge, Director of Disaster Management Department, other Senior Government officials and members of the Media. Given the rapidly changing disaster landscape in the SADC region, now characterized by more frequent disaster events with intensified severity of impacts, the SADC Council of Ministers during their meeting held in March 2022 approved the interim activities towards the operationalization of the SHOC while the SADC Secretariat is facilitating the signing of the MOA.